What is an Articulation Agreement?

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Category: Going Back to School

By Matt Rowley
Posted on

Many college students have probably never heard of an “articulation agreement,” but they are a critical part of a common route to higher education.

Put simply, an articulation agreement is a partnership that formalizes procedures for students transferring credits from one institution to another. Students who enroll at a school that has an articulation agreement with another can typically transfer their credits from the first school and pursue a degree at the second with minimal issues.

In this article, we outline the basics of articulation agreements.

Articulation Agreements Between Community Colleges and Universities

Some prospective college students decide to start their higher education journeys through community colleges, which are also commonly known as “junior colleges” or “two-year colleges.” Starting at a community college is a common route, especially for students pursuing education at a lower cost.

For community colleges primarily offering associate degrees, articulation agreements allow them to broaden their offerings. In addition to students in their own standalone degree programs, community colleges can attract students who will use their programs as invaluable steps on their way to a bachelor’s degree at another school.

For universities offering bachelor’s and graduate degrees, articulation agreements are a way to attract students who may not have been able to attend their institutions otherwise. There’s also evidence that community college transfers may be more persistent and graduate in higher numbers than other kinds of students.

How Do Articulation Agreements Benefit Students?

Many community college students are enrolled with the explicit goal of eventually transferring to a university and pursuing a bachelor’s degree. However, the process can be difficult, resulting in surprisingly low numbers of students transferring from community colleges to bachelor’s degree-granting institutions.

One of the common hurdles faced by transfer students can be confusing transfer credit policies. Articulation agreements can help students align their community college credits with a specific bachelor’s degree program, giving them a clearer understanding of the classes they need to take to transfer. Additionally, articulation agreements ensure that transferring students get the maximum amount of credit from their studies at the community college.

How Do Articulation Agreements Work?

Articulation agreements are typically based on a set of academic standards that two institutions share. Although each agreement is unique, some common features include:

  1. Automatic acceptance: Students at the community college who maintain a cumulative grade point average above a certain level are often automatically accepted into the university program.
  2. Dual enrollment: Students often can study at both schools simultaneously, earning credits at both institutions before officially transferring.
  3. Program-specific credits: Some articulation agreements create a clear track for students in specific degree programs. For example, here at Columbia Southern University, our articulation agreement with Reid State Technical College allows Reid State students who earned an associate degree in applied science or applied technology to transfer their credits toward CSU’s bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Researching Articulation Agreements

If you’re considering attending a community college in hopes of one day transferring to a second school, it’s a good idea to ask about and research their articulation agreements. This can give you a better sense of the options available to you should you choose to transfer. Although you can certainly transfer to a new university without an articulation agreement, that process may require more steps and take more time to complete.

Next Steps

Here at Columbia Southern University, we ensure the transfer process goes as smoothly as possible for our students. We currently have dozens of undergraduate and graduate articulation agreements with colleges, universities and other organizations offering education and professional training.

Additionally, CSU students can also earn college credits through exams, military experience, professional certifications, and work experience.

To learn more about our online degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, visit our website.

Amount of transfer credits is dependent upon transcript evaluation and pending Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process.

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